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Soup For the Writer's Soul-An Economical Way to Eat Hearty and Save Money

Updated on August 29, 2012

Even writers have to eat, and if you are in the middle of a marathon writing challenge time is of the essence.  Soup is a perfect choice to sustain the body, fuel the mind and comfort the soul.  In addition to that, soup is relatively inexpensive to make, stretches past the initial day of preparation, and is easy on the budget.  Throw the ingredients into a big pot in the morning and let it do its thing.  By the time you are ready for your first break the soup will be also.  Here is a recipe for a ‘clean eating’ version for French Onion Soup:

French Onion Soup

My mother loved French Onion soup, and I’m not sure if it was because of the flavor of the soup alone, or if it was because of the opportunity to eat bread without guilt! This recipe comes from Tosca Reno’s recipe book: The Clean Eat Diet Cookbook 2


1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil

3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced

½ tsp (2.5 ml) sea salt

¼ tsp (1.25 ml) freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, peeled and slightly smashed

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

¼ tsp (1.25 ml) whole black peppercorns

1 tsp (5 ml) Cognac, brandy or dry sherry

1 tsp (5 ml) white wine vinegar

1 tsp (5 ml) sherry vinegar

4 cups (960 ml) low sodium beef broth

Dash of Worcestershire

8 Parmesan croutons (recipe follows)

Cheesecloth for a seasoning sachet


Heat olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, salt and pepper and sweat onions until they reduce in volume, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook onions slowly until they are well browned, using a wooden spoon to stir and scrape the bottom of the pot regularly, approximately 45-55 minutes.

(This is a slow process to caramelize the onions-avoid browning them on high heat).

While onions are browning, cut a 3 x 3 inch square of double layered cheesecloth for sachet. Place garlic, thyme, bay leaf and black peppercorns on cheesecloth, gather corners and tie closed with butcher twine or food safe string. Set aside.

When onions are evenly browned and have reduced down greatly add Cognac, and both vinegars. Scrape bottom of pot to loosen brown crusty bits, and allow liquid to infuse its flavor into onions and cook out the alcohol, about 30 seconds. Add beef broth, a dash of Worcestershire and cheesecloth sachet. Bring soup to a boil, partially cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecloth sachet and discard. Ladle soup into bowls, when ready to eat, and top with Parmesan croutons.

Makes: (4) 1 cup servings of 152 calories each.

Hearty Soup, Healthy Body
Hearty Soup, Healthy Body | Source

Eat-Clean Cooking Spray


Extra virgin olive oil


Place EVOO in a food-grade spray bottle to spritz over pans or food as needed.

Parmesan Croutons

Parmesan Croutons:

8 x ¼ inch thick slices whole grain French bread

Eat-Clean cooking spray (recipe follows)

Pinch sea salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

8 tsp (40 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (175 C) Place bread slices on baking sheet.  Spray with Cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Top each with 1 tsp (5 ml) Parmesan.  Bake in oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

4 Servings of (2) croutons each=128 calories.

Love for Ourselves and Our Planet

For those readers not familiar with the terms: ‘Eat-Clean’ or 'Clean-Eating' it refers to a way of life, not a fad diet or a fanatical, hyper vigilance toward processed food. It is a conscientious choice of eating foods in their most natural forms. This would include organically grown foods, but also, the way the food is handled in the preparation of meals, such as choosing chemically free cooking sprays.

We have one body, when we are born, and we don’t really get a second chance to replace its parts when things go awry despite medical miracles like limb replacement and organ transplants. It makes sense that we must care for ourselves by optimizing ways to stay healthy, while helping our planet to heal from poisonous toxins that we have come to incorporate as ‘daily living’.


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for visiting the hub and commenting, Cherry. Mom loved cooking and even when she was terminally ill with cancer insisted on doing it...I think it was her form of therapy. Enjoy!

    • cherrycrime26 profile image

      January Moon 

      9 years ago from NY, Now Living in Atlanta Ga

      You mom was quite the cook I need to try that recipe, makes me hungry just thinking about it, voted up!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Susannah-thanks for reading and feeling adventurous to try a 'new' recipe. :) Nice to meet you.

    • susannah42 profile image


      9 years ago from Florida

      I love to try new recipes. I will try this.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      That's am I! I'm in a work dilemma right now and one of my backup plans will be to return to travel nursing. I'm hoping it does not get to that, but it's nice to have plan B ready.

    • emichael profile image


      9 years ago from New Orleans

      Yeah, most people don't equate New Orleans with cold. But when it's cold here it's REALLY cold because of the high humidity. Glad you were forewarned, though :)

      I'll make it to Greece one day. I'm hoping I'll have an opportunity through work. That is how I was able to go to Israel, and they make trips to Greece as well. But if that doesn't happen, I will just go on my own.

      Hostels are the way to go, for sure. After we left our friend's house in Marseilles, we took the train up to Paris for a week. We learned really quick how to survive on a budget :) Yeah I could go on and on reliving memories from that trip once I get going. Once you're bitten by the travel bug, there is really no cure. Except more travel, of course :)

      I haven't read it yet! Thanks for the reminder. I've been distracted the last few days, but I need to get back into reading and writing. I will today, hopefully, and I'll definitely leave a comment there when I do. It's been nice chatting with you, Denise. Except now I'm itching to travel somewhere awesome while I'm stuck at work!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      I have been to N.O. back in 2000. I LOVED the city, I loved the energy, I loved the atmosphere and music...unfortunately it was one of the years that a freeze had gone through (this was January) and it was so cold. I was grateful I had 'heard' ahead of time and brought my winter coat from Detroit. LOL Make it a goal to get to Greece. There are lots of economical ways to do it with a little time to save and ingenuity in planning. I took my daughter (cara) to Europe after she graduated from her University and we travelled cheap for the two of us staying in hostels and riding the rail.

      We went to France, Switzerland, Italy, and were supposed to go into Spain, never did due to a rail strike, and then back to France. We had an awesome time and many great memories.

      My favorites were when we spent Mother's Day in Givernney (spelling?) touring Monet's gardens and home. It was the most special M.D. outside of giving birth to my two kids, LOL And, second was when we ate at a little cafe b/c I was craving a crepe. I told the proprieter that I admired her skill in making the crepe and she insisted I try to make one. That was the one time we did not have a camera with us, but it is embedded in our memories. Oh, and just for the record: I failed miserably at making the crepe, LOL but it was delicioius just the same. Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Michael. :)

      BTW-have you read the 'Silence' hub yet? Oh, and if you want to read cara's account of the trip to Monet's gardens it is a Mother's Day hub on her site. :)

    • emichael profile image


      9 years ago from New Orleans

      You did :) I would so love to go to Greece. But that's too bad that yall don't have much of that kind of food up there. If you ever make a trip down to New Orleans there's definitely no shortage here :)

      I'll look up your daughter's hub. I love reading about people's trips to other countries!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      I have not been to Greece (but I got your attention on that one, didn't I, LOL) but I also love Greek food and eat it whenever I find a decent Greek restaurant. There isn't much in the way of real ethnic cooking here in my area of NC.

      But, seriously, my daughter, Cara has for her honeymoon so I got it first hand from her. She is also a hubber here: cardelean. She hasn't done one on Greece yet, but did a fabulous hub about her wedding. I think it was called: My great, big, fat, Romanian wedding. LOL

    • emichael profile image


      9 years ago from New Orleans

      I sure will! There are a couple of things she cooked that I would love to try to get and share. My favorite was galette which is a French King Cake. So, so good, but probably hard to make here. Most of what they buy over there is so much fresher than anything most of us could probably get our hands on. But I'll see what I can get and if they can recommend any substitutions for things we may not be able to buy here.

      Have you been to Greece? I love Greek food (at least our version of it).

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks, Michael, for reading and commenting. I would also be interested in knowing the difference-and it is quite typical that food we consider authentic ethnic food is no where near it when you visit that country or a visitor comes over to the U.S. It is the same with Greek or Mexican food as well.

      If you find out-write a hub about it and share it with all of us. Thanks. :)

    • emichael profile image


      9 years ago from New Orleans

      I love French onion soup! My third favorite after gumbo and turtle soup :) I've never tried cooking it though, I'll have to give this recipe a go.

      I have a friend who lives in France, actually, and his mom made it for us when I went to visit with some friends. It was different than any I've had here though. It was clear rather than that rich dark color. I'll have to see if I can get the recipe from her. I'd be interested to see how this differs from how they make it over there.

      Thanks for sharing this :)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      It'a a good recipe, Micky. Keep it tucked away for those chilly NC winters. Nice to see you here.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      9 years ago

      Thank you Denise for more wisdom.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      That's wonderful, JO--I don't happen to have any cherry cheese cake recipes, HOWEVER-I bet some hubber does. If there isn't a hub to investigate, then I suggest that you pose it as a question. It may just evoke a hub from one of the cooks here. Thanks for your update on this hub. Glad they liked the recipe.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image


      9 years ago

      hello! I wanted to let you know that our family had my home made chicken soup and I made your Parmesan Croutons receipe for the salad. it was yummy! My husband said that I need to come here often. Would you happen to have any ideas for a cherry cheese cake?

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi 'Mama'-Thanks for reading and commenting. I love to tackle an old subject with a new slant-thanks for noticing. Let me know how you like the soup. :)

      Ms Nellieanna-I LOVE that term: a hot salad. I'll have to remember that one. Thanks for your comments. :)

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      9 years ago from TEXAS

      I adore soup and make it often. My George called my soup a "Hot Salad" - haha - full of veggies, not overcooked.

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 

      9 years ago from New England

      Hi Denise, Thank you for this great hub. Great slant, too! :0) Yes, a pot of soup simmering on the stove is very inspiring, isn't it?! Thanks for writing. Voted up and awesome...and bookmarked. :0)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi BK-I agree-I love the aroma of the soup simmering on the stove. Great! sounds yummuy. :)

      Hello acaetnna-Thanks! I appreciate that

      Hi Ruby. Hope you give it a try. :)

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      9 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I love a good soup, this one sounds delicious. Thank you'

    • acaetnna profile image


      9 years ago from Guildford

      Well you know I love new recipes and I will try this one for sure! Bookmarked for future use. Thank you Denise.

    • BkCreative profile image


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      As a matter of fact I just picked up all the ingredients for a nice big pot of vegetable soup. What's so lovely, it that while I am writing, it can cook slowly and I get to enjoy the aroma.

      Nothing like fresh homemade soup to fill you up (I lose weight if I eat soup for a few days) and nourish.

      And clean eating it is for me.

      Rated up!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      You're welcome. Love XX

    • cardelean profile image


      9 years ago from Michigan

      Sounds yummy! I love my soups! Thanks for the link to my clean eating hub and I'm glad you're enjoying the books.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Marie-I must be crazy, for sure!! I'm running out of ideas... As for the clean eating there actually is a mag. that my kids got a subscription for me this Christmas, as well as books. I recieved one for my b-day and it has some tasty recipes...nothing is sacrificed re: taste in place of the chemicals. :)

    • VioletSun profile image


      9 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      I also wasn't familiar with the clean eating term, even if I do eat clean at times, just thought I was choosing healthier foods. Good to know! I love soups but consume them during the colder weather. Congrats on your ability to continue writing and writing hubs, it takes dedication and discipline. :)

      Voted up!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Awww-Reprieve-you are most welcome. Glad to accomodate, and I am sure that many, many people have adapted this lifestyle, although, clearly not enough yet. The 'clean-eating' term is a new phase of bringing this healthy lifestyle into public awareness. Conciousness eating would be another way to describle it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      catman-thank you for leaving a comment on a subject that you aren't a big fan of-I appreciate it. My mom was Italian and we had soup as a normal course of meals. I actually had an (ex) b.f. who was amazed that no matter what season or temperature of the day, I could consume a hot bowl of soup. :)

    • catman3000 profile image


      9 years ago from England, UK

      Im not a big fan of soups, but very well written.

    • Reprieve26 profile image

      HS Contino 

      9 years ago from Oregon Coast

      I wasn't familiar with the term "clean-eating"-- although it accurately sums up my approach to food the past few years. Thanks for giving me a name for the practice! :)


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